Emperor Akihito expressed hope that the victims and survivors of the March 11, 2011, disaster won't be forgotten and prayed for world peace, as part of his annual message for the new year.
“It was reassuring that after the Great East Japan Earthquake two years ago, many people visited the devastated areas and worked to support the afflicted people," the emperor told a crowd gathered on Jan. 2 at the Imperial Palace. "I hope our hearts will continue to be with the afflicted.”
The emperor and other imperial family members appeared on a balcony at the Imperial Palace to greet well-wishers for the new year.
“I hope this year will be a better one for everyone," Akihito, 79, continued. "I pray for peace in the world and for the happiness of the people.”
Members of the imperial family made five such appearances during the day, waving to the large crowds gathered below.
The emperor also said in his New Year's thoughts, released by the Imperial Household Agency the previous day, that he is worried about the earthquake survivors and that Japan must continue to support them.
“My heart goes out to the afflicted people, those who cannot return to the places they used to live because of radioactive contamination, and those who have to spend the cold, harsh winter in temporary housing,” he said. “It is my wish that the people’s hearts will always be with the afflicted, and that everyone will support one another to overcome the various challenges.”
(This article was written by Ryuichi Kitano and Yasuhiko Shima.)
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